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[REVIEW] Klipsch Image S4 - Are they a bang for the buck?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

  So I got these mini-cans about 5 months ago, and finally I decided to do a review on them. Despite the myriad of S4 reviews floating around the Internet already.

 

Klipsch Image S4 {REVIEW}

 

 

What’s In The Package (That I Got)?

   Over here in Singapore the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) is at S$129. However I bought mine during a (super rare) sale for S$116, which is not much of a discount. Anyway, for the price of S$129, you will be getting:

- 1 Klipsch Image S4 IEMs

- 3 Pairs of ear tips (M, L, bi-flange M)

- 1 Hard carrying case

*- 1 earwax-cleaning tool

**- 2 years LIMITED warranty

 

*For those whose S4's come in the blue packaging, yours may not have the earwax cleaning tool. Mine did not have it, but I called the local distributor and he gave one to me. So, a big thanks to him.

**As you can see, its 2 years LIMITED warranty, as there are many restrictions to the warranty, which makes it kind of redundant. Unless, your local dealer in nice, or your claims do not fall under the limitations of the warranty. Then again, practically all warranties have these terms and conditions. So these are the limitations:

•This limited warranty does not cover failure of the product resulting from misuse, abuse, accident, neglect, mishandling, or wear from ordinary use or environmental deterioration.

•This limited warranty does not cover consequential damage to other components including

headphone cable, adaptor jack, cleaning tool, airplane adaptor, additional ear tips, large or small

carrying case. No such other components of or accessories of the Product are covered by this

limited warranty. In addition, this limited warranty does not apply to any non-Company hardware

product or any software; even if package is sold with the Product.

•This limited warranty is null and void for products altered or missing serial numbers and for

products not purchased from an authorized dealer.

•This limited warranty terminates if you sell or otherwise transfer this product to another party.

 

P8216242.JPG

(In clockwise direction, at the top: The hard case, followed by the 3 included silicone tips, the S4’s, and the earwax cleaning tool)

NOTE: The black foam tips were bought separately and not is not part of the S4’s added frills.

 

 

How’s The Build Quality?

1. The earphone housings are made of plastic. Not the cheap Beats plastic, but real, sturdy plastic. 

 

2. The cable is thicker than those stock iBuds. The wire does not tangle easily, which is a good thing. However, the cables do get really curly-wurly after awhile if you always wind it. Also, the microphonics on these are crazy irritating. A simple light tug or movement causes microphonics to occur. That is of course if you wear the S4’s straight down. If you do not mind the hassle and wear the S4’s over the ear, it would be like, * POOF! *, The microphonics suddenly become almost non-existent.

 

3.  The y-shaped splitter is sturdy, but both front and back of the splitter looks identical so you would not really know whether you are wearing the S4’s on the correct side or not, unless you look for the “L” or “R” on the earphone housings themselves. Secondly, I hardly touch or move the splitter because; you guessed it! It causes microphonics.

 

4. The strain reliefs are made of rubber, is really sturdy (for rubber). They clearly minimize the strain being put on the cables time and again. There have been a number of instances when I had my S4’s on where my iPhone slipped off my hand and it was left dangling in mid air. The thing is, although it has happened multiple times, my jack has not snapped from the rest of the cable, thanks to the strain relief, and the sturdy construction of the S4’s, so kudos to Klipsch for that.

P9096260.JPG

It may not look like much, but the strain relief IS pretty strong.

 

5. The metal crush-proof tin is really solid (Well, Duh!).  I am kind of a klutz, so I have dropped my S4’s stored in the metal tin, and they have survived all the drops so far. Also, I guess the foamy feeling thing in the tin helps to absorb impact too.

 

6. Somehow, the “KLIPSCH” image faces the back when you are wearing the S4’s “properly”. That is not really a problem, but I was really baffled by that. So when you wear your S4’s, it looks something like this:

P9096257.JPG P9096259.JPG

So the logo is actually facing the back of your ears. Interesting…

 

 

 

Is it Comfortable?

  The S4 housings are primarily made of plastic, or maybe acrylic, but most likely plastic. So, they are as light as a feather. When wearing them, I feel like nothing is there. Making them really, really good for listening for long hours. The angled nozzle also increases the comfort level, as you will not feel the earphones themselves jutting into your ear.

 

  Also, all Klipsch IEMs come with oval-shaped silicone buds, not the normal run of the mill spherical silicone buds. The people at Klipsch believe that the ear canal is more of an oval-shape than a circle-shape. That also explains why with the Klipschs’, you will get a little more isolation than other IEMs with normal silicone tips.

 

  The silicone tips are really comfortable, however, even with the ‘L’ tips, the left side would fit snuggly, but the right side came out a little too easily. Other than the fitting issues, the S4’s are pretty darn comfortable.

 

 

How’s The Isolation?

  Although I did not get a good seal on the S4’s, but it was decent enough to dull down the ambient noise in the surrounding. I remember when I was on the bus home; there were not many people around, so it was the environment was not rowdy. I put them on and I thought to myself, “actually I still can hear the sound of the bus accelerating.” I thought the isolation was not as good as the reviews claimed after all.

 

  Then, I decided to take out one side of the S4, and when I did, I was in for a shock. When I took out the right earpiece, I could actually hear the rumbling of the air-conditioning unit and the sound of the bus accelerating suddenly became excruciatingly loud. I could not hear any of that when I had my S4’s on. There and then, it hit me how good the isolation was.

 

 

Finally! How DO The S4’s Sound?

Below are the specs for the S4:

· DESIGN: Dynamic Moving Coil Micro Speaker

· DIMENSIONS: 8.5mm diameter

· DRIVE COMPONENTS: Full range KG 25

· FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz – 19KHz

· INPUT CONNECTIONS: 3.5mm

· NOISE ISOLATION: -16

· NOMINAL IMPEDANCE: 18-ohm

· SENSITIVITY: 110db SPL/mW

· WEIGHT: 11.9 grams

 

  Before I bought theS4, I only used iBuds and Sonic Gear’s Ear Pump 2. So when I first bought the S4, they sounded loud. I use an iPhone as my DAP, so when I was in my room, I plugged them in and had the volume at the first bar, and it was already kinda loud. When I am travelling anywhere on the train or on the bus I would have the volume at 3 bars, and the volume of the output would be just nice.

 

  Other than the output being louder than other cheap IEMs I had listened to, it sounded kind of plastic-ish, or hollow.  The Mids were smooth, a tad bit slow, making the S4’s kinda coagulate and feel like a blood clot. The Highs were as harsh as my Mathematics teacher and the bass felt very bloated in a sense, like how you will feel if you ever finish The Sloppy Roethlisberger. (Those who do not know what The Sloppy Roethlisberger is, it is the 138,226 calorie burger from EpicMealTime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCxFn3sAw68) I decided to burn the S4’s in. I burned-in my S4 through my iPhone because there is a dedicated burn-in where you can choose different frequencies and noises for your burn-in, and I wanted to play safe so I burned-in using ‘Pink Noise”.

 

  After burning-in for  ~50 hours +, it’s like they got a total facelift, or SQ-lift, in this context.  The Overall sound really warm, and it gave me a rather fuzzy feeling while listening to the new after-burned-in-with-pink-noise S4s. The Highs suddenly became more tamed and more pleasant, while the bass became slimmed down and became tighter, and not so bloated anymore. Also, I got my S4’s fitted with the Comply Tx-100 foam tips and it made the bass thumpier. The bass extension is still good but it does overflow to the mids in some songs. In my opinion, after burn-in, the Mids became smoother, and not so coagulated. The soundstage is relatively wide, and is really excellent considering that it is in the <$100 price range. The instrumental separation is not the best but if you EQ it a bit, it becomes more distinct.

 

  Finally, there is the presence of hissing when you plug the S4’s into some sources; like when I plugged the S4’s into my Altec Lansing VS2421 speakers to try, the hissing was quite significant. The S4’s also have the ability (I do not know whether it is a plus for some of you) to detect a poor song/video/source, due to its high sensitivity. But this will not really concern you unless you are a stickler for perfection (:

 

 

What’s My Verdict?

So these are the claims that Klipsch made:

· Precise comfortable fit for long-term wear  [Definitely A BIG YES]

· Superior noise-isolating design   [Definitely YES]

· Delivers smooth sound with enhanced bass   [Definitely A BIG YES]

· Angled nozzle for proper in-ear alignment    [Definitely YES]

· Durable built-in strain relief   [Definitely YES]

 

My Ratings:

Accessories – 7/10 (3 pairs of tips are not enough, but the tin casing and the earwax tool really come in handy)

Build Quality – 7.4/10 (S4 earphone housings are made of really sturdy plastic and the cables are thick than normal, meaning it is more tangle resistant.)

Comfort – 7.1/10 (the S4’s are really light and will not cause much of an obstruction while you have them on. Just beware of the ever-present microphonics)

Isolation – 7.3/10 (really good isolation IF you get a good seal with the silicone tips, when I could not, I went for the Comply Tx-100 foam tips)

Sound Quality – 7/10 (good bass extension, treble was pleasantly bright, mids are warm, just need more refining)

Value – 7.2/10 (really good sound quality for a sub $100 IEMs, but there should have been more eartips, and the ever-present microphonics is…)

Overall – 7.17/10 (clearly a great IEM in the making if they keep improving on the S4’s)

 

 

 

In Conclusion?

  I feel that the S4’s are worth the buy for audiophiles who are starting out and bassheads. If you are a treble head, you may love it too.  The S4’s do lack a little more refining, as they lack a little detail. Other than that, the S4’s are quite balanced, in terms of sound quality and I can see why there was such excessive hype about the S4’s. I would definitely recommend giving the S4’s a shot, as they are really value for money.

 

I hope you guys enjoyed my really long review, and please leave your comments below about where I can improve on so I can become better at reviewing. Thank you!

 

 


Edited by Audio WannaBe - 9/9/11 at 9:31am
post #2 of 13

Thanks for the review, though you should use a bigger size font.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

Thanks for the review, though you should use a bigger size font.



 

Hey, i should thank you instead for reading my review. Alright. I'll change the font .bigsmile_face.gif

post #4 of 13

I know it's quite old, but i am considering getting the Image S4 soon. Are they really worth it? Could you convince me to buying it? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbine Guy View Post

I know it's quite old, but i am considering getting the Image S4 soon. Are they really worth it? Could you convince me to buying it? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


YES, they are worth it. However, it really depends on what genre you like. If you like clear vocals and punchy bass, the S4's were meant for you. Judging by your display picture, i guess you like 30 seconds to Mars too? So far, the songs from them sound pretty pretty awesome with the S4's. Although, i did hear the S4's turn a little muddy during the chorus of Closer to the Edge, but overall they are quite a good pair of IEMs.

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbine Guy View Post

I know it's quite old, but i am considering getting the Image S4 soon. Are they really worth it? Could you convince me to buying it? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


There are quite a few better options in the 75-100 dollar price range, and even down in the 40-50 dollar range (Soundmagic e30 for one).  The S4 used to be okay...it's about 2 years past it's prime now and has been surpassed by at least 10 headphones that I've tried personally.  

 

To start:  NuForce 700x, PFE 012, Brainwavz M3 & M2, Soundmagic e30, Monster Turbine...all lean towards bass like the S4 (except the M3 which is more balanced), but surpass it in nearly every other area except for maybe comfort.

 

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbdynsty25 View Post


There are quite a few better options in the 75-100 dollar price range, and even down in the 40-50 dollar range (Soundmagic e30 for one).  The S4 used to be okay...it's about 2 years past it's prime now and has been surpassed by at least 10 headphones that I've tried personally.  

 

To start:  NuForce 700x, PFE 012, Brainwavz M3 & M2, Soundmagic e30, Monster Turbine...all lean towards bass like the S4 (except the M3 which is more balanced), but surpass it in nearly every other area except for maybe comfort.

 

Yeah, its been two years! Figured that i might give it a try, but thanks for giving me other alternatives!
 

 

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio WannaBe View Post




YES, they are worth it. However, it really depends on what genre you like. If you like clear vocals and punchy bass, the S4's were meant for you. Judging by your display picture, i guess you like 30 seconds to Mars too? So far, the songs from them sound pretty pretty awesome with the S4's. Although, i did hear the S4's turn a little muddy during the chorus of Closer to the Edge, but overall they are quite a good pair of IEMs.


YES I LOVE LOVE LOVE 30 SECONDS TO MARS!!! JUST ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM TO DEATH!!! Anyway, i decided to borrow the Image S4 from my friends to try first, and if i like it, i will steal the Image S4. Just kidding. THANKS THANKS THANKS!

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbine Guy View Post




YES I LOVE LOVE LOVE 30 SECONDS TO MARS!!! JUST ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM TO DEATH!!! Anyway, i decided to borrow the Image S4 from my friends to try first, and if i like it, i will steal the Image S4. Just kidding. THANKS THANKS THANKS!

 

  The S4's are good, but not worth stealing. Haha! If you wanted to steal them, you should have done it 2 years ago. They are now past their prime, so i suggest you go steal other IEMs that are worth stealing!

 

 

(I'm just kidding!)

post #10 of 13

What should I get these or the soundMAGIC e10... both between 30-50 bucks.

post #11 of 13

Can't comment on e10 but I have been using S4 for more than 2 years and was quite happy with them. I'm also pretty sure that there are available some IEMs with better sound quality nowadays but their price would be around 60 bucks which does't meet your requirement so I don't know.... I just recently decided to buy new IEMs to replace my old S4 and currently waiting to receive them and also expecting them to be kind of a big sound improvement

post #12 of 13

I've been using the S4's for a couple of years and had no complaints, they sounded decent enough and are definitely comfortable. Only just upgraded to Yamaha EPH-100 which are definitely a step up...

post #13 of 13

It's a shame; I love the extension, detail and sound stage but the mid bass is just so over powering. I still like them though.

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